Monday, November 25, 2013

Help Your Own

ready to step on some toes here, but lately i feel like it must be said.

ever since we have adopted from china the phrase "help your own" has come up, a lot.

don't get me wrong, i do understand where these well meaning people are coming from, but that does not mean i agree with them. there's the beauty of america summed up in one sentence.

when we began our adoptions, we were going completely on God's calling on our life and His will for our family. we didn't adopt for Facebook pictures, or to look "good" or so we could get ugly stares from women in grocery stores. we just didn't.

we adopted because God commands we as christians care for the orphans. He doesn't ever suggest it or tell us we can if we want to. He is VERY clear on orphan care and it's a command. (james 1:27)

i  clearly remember quite a few very ugly Facebook statuses wrote about our family claiming that we were selfish to adopt from another country when there were plenty of children in our own backyard that needed help. why go around the world when you can simply go to another state? "help your own first."

reasonable, i assume, except for this one thing: no where in the bible does God say "Help the orphans in your country" He simply tells us to help the orphans (and widows) in their distress. our family did just that. we adopted three children who would have grown up in an institution. never knowing who this Jesus is.

if you are not doing anything to help anyone, i really don't have anything to say to your judgement on my family. if you believe we should "help our own" then by all means, get out there and help! there are multiple places/organizations that would be happy to have volunteers. but please, don't tell others who are helping someone somewhere that they should help someone different, when you yourself aren't doing anything to begin with. everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but please for the love of all that is good in this world, be kind and wise with what you say and type.

i believe every child deserves a family. no child ever deserves to be left to grow up in an orphanage. babies need mamas not caregivers. so, why does it matter where the needy child comes from? why should it matter what this child looks like or what language it speaks? a child is a child. and they all need a home.

God does not see us as americans, africans, chinese, russians, or europeans. He sees us as His children. we're all desperate for His mercy and His endless grace. we're all His. regardless. so, next time instead of raging the "Help Your Own" war. give grace and rejoice in the fact that a child has a home and is beloved. rejoice in the fact that there is one less orphan in the world. rejoice in the fact that a man/woman is willing to leave their home and go to the corners of the world to share His good news. and next time, get out there and change the world yourself. no matter where it is you end up.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Orphan Sunday

a sunday and a day late, that is.

forgive me, guys.

Orphan Sunday came in as quickly as it left and I completely missed it other than a nice little Facebook post.

orphans and vulnerable children are so very close to my heart. they are so very close to God's heart. i love the idea of orphan sunday for many reasons. it isn't raising awareness about just adoption, or just sponsoring kids, or just reunification, it is bringing awareness to the plight that is The Least of These. Don't get me wrong, adoption is a beautiful thing. it is redemption in every definition of the word and i love adoption, but it's not always the answer.

below are some statistics about orphans and vulnerable children of the world.

According to UNICEF about 17.8 million children are true orphans. when i say true orphans i mean children that have lost both parents. 11 million children will die of starvation or preventable diseases. 8.5 million work as slaves or prostitutes. 2.3 million live with HIV/AIDS. all of these statistics add up to about 163 million needy children in the world.

the numbers are saddening and are so overwhelming at first glance. BUT there are 2.1 billion people who claim to be Christians. the truth is, if only 7% of these people would care for one child, these statistics wouldn't exist.

where are we the church as this crisis continues to rise? what are we doing to stop this tragedy. these children are growing up. in most countries at age 16 (or before) these precious children are kicked out of their orphanages and foster homes and put on the street.

where are we to help aid the mother that is desperate to be able to care for her child? where are we to take in the child that is desperate for a family of his own? why are we not raging war against the injustice that has become of this world.

when i was in Uganda i first hand experienced this injustice. i will never forget the mama i met in the village. she had a little girl that was probably no older than three and a very tiny baby that had down syndrome. she came to us begging for money to get formula for her baby. after more examination we begged this mama to allow us to take her and her baby to the clinic so the baby could receive further care. this mama came with everything she had ready to get help for her baby. mama and baby spent weeks in the hospital and this mama never left her little one. she loved her baby and without our help she would not have been able to get care at this hospital. this precious baby died in the hospital due to a heart condition. but this mama fought for her baby and never, ever left her side. it's a sad reality for so many parents. they are desperate to care for their child. they love their child, but our world is cruel & unfortunately without the help of others, it just isn't possible.

we have gotten to a mindset that because we have money, we are clearly a better fit for these children. this isn't always the case. in some cases, it absolutely is. but our research needs to be done. children are supposed to be in families, not institutions. babies need mamas not caregivers.

i have been blessed with three siblings adopted from China. it was truly one of the best experiences in my entire life. God loves the orphan and He truly places the lonely in families. Adoption makes families and it changes lives. If not for the adoption of my siblings they would never know who Jesus was and they would most likely have lived in an orphanage and been kicked out when they turned 13. most of the children that are put on the streets become the slaves and prostitutes. they don't choose this life. it's unfair and it's not just. Adoption is the difference. In some countries, children can never be reunited with birth families, but can be placed with adoptive families and that's where we come in. where are we church?

Not everyone is called to adopt, but everyone is called to do something. God doesn't give us an option. He commands us to care for the orphan and widow. He commands us to step out and care for the Least of These. it's not a friendly suggestion, it's demanded of us.

You don't have to travel the world to change a life. It may take place in a foreign land or it may take place in your backyard, but we are all called to make a difference. You may not be able to change the world, but i promise we can all change the world for one. and sometimes, one is enough.

Let them know Him through our Love.

Happy [belated] Orphan Sunday.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


feel free to ask anyone that knows me, literally anyone. Patience is not ya girl's thing. i am in love with instant gratification. (which is honestly why weight watchers, long nails, and online shopping have never been my friend) i like now. in my hands. right when i want it. 

so, as i'm in this season of waiting it is so not easy. it's actually hard. and i find myself constantly aching to return. i feel as if it is never going to happen, but i've began to realize something. God is teaching me. Yes, me. My stubborn, hard headed, my way or no way self the glorious thing that is patience. and in order to keep it real, lemme just say, it sucks

God's plans are pretty fantastic. much much better than mine for sure. and i'm so thankful that when i go off on my own path, he brings me in. ever so gently and patiently. He guides me right to where i'm needed at the moment. 

God's been so patient with me for so many years. i have never been your rebellious teenager, but i have for sure been the girl, after being frustrated and basically losing all hope, thrown my hands up in the air and declared, "k God that's it! i quit. i'm not gonna do it. i can't take it anymore and i am so done." 

yet, here i am. so not done and so doing it. 

He is faithful, so faithful. and Because God is graceful, I am Brave. 

whether my waiting leaves me in America longer than planned or takes me to Uganda sooner than imagined. i'm here and i'm waiting for whatever it is that Jesus has for me. 

ready or not, 

here i am, Lord send me. [isaiah 6:8]

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


sometimes God places people in our life, even if only for a short time, and they change our worlds forever + for the better. Leaving you and the world better all because you knew them.

in june of 2012 i met someone like that and my life has not been the same since. meet Alicia. she is 23 years old, fearless, beautiful, in love with Jesus, and she is a miracle in every form of the word. i met alicia in the London airport on our way to Uganda. she was one of the sweetest spirits to ever cross my path and i instantly adored her (along with the rest of the team) Alicia and i were making our very first trip to Uganda and our excitement couldn't quite be contained. i remember our excited conversations like it was yesterday. we took too many selfies and paced that airport like it was our job. we just couldn't wait. we arrived in Uganda and Alicia fell head over heels in love. she was a natural. she loved every baby that came her way and because of her being a registered nurse, she helped even more. i chose to be Alicia's assistant during the trip. basically when we would set up a medical table Alicia would run the show and i would stand back in awe and help her with whatever she said was needed.

Alicia's heart was with a baby named Rita and i saw just how beautifully passionate she was. Alicia spent an entire day showing love to a tiny, dirty little girl in a village. she fed her granola bars out of bag, changed her into a shirt that was clean, kissed her, loved her and was truly Jesus. everyone knew that Rita was Alicia's baby.

i loved my time with her in uganda and i loved seeing her fall in love. there's nothing like seeing someone realize where God wants them for their life. it's magical and beautiful.

when we left uganda Alicia was on absolute fire for Jesus and the people of Uganda. She knew she would move back to Uganda. she knew that this was where God had called her. i was in awe of her. Alicia returned to Uganda quite a few times and moved there for almost 5 months.

This morning Alicia went to be with Jesus.

i am completely heartbroken by this. longing to hear her laugh again or to talk about our babies and sneak photos. i miss her so much. i'll miss our talks over Facebook and texts, i'll miss her laughing at me drinking mountain dew at 6am, i'll miss cafe javas, i'll miss walking dirt roads with her, i'll miss loving babies without her, and i'll just miss her.

Alicia was one of the most beautiful people i have ever met. she was fearless and brave and she served Jesus with her whole heart. i'm thankful that she is now whole and pain free in the arms of Jesus. I cannot even imagine the welcome home party that heaven is having for her right now. I'm sure it is beautiful and she is glowing as she always did.

Alicia was a world changer. despite having CF she served others with everything in her. she loved every single person she came into contact with. people knew Him through Alicia's love. she was a warrior and i'm thankful that i was privileged to know her, even if only for a short time.

i can't wait to dance around an african drum in grass skirts with you again. i can't wait to see your smiling face and hug you. i hold on to the promise that i will see you again and oh, how excited i am for that day.

Uganda will never, ever be the same without you, Alicia.

and in the beautiful words of Alicia herself,

If God can transform my life and send me to Uganda, He can do anything. I encourage you to surrender your life to Jesus. If He has put a call on your life have faith in him to help you fulfill it. He will give you the strength and He will never leave you or forsake you. God does not call the equipped, he equips the called. There is overwhelming peace in knowing you are doing what God wants you to. No matter how hard it might be, He will give you the strength to endure.

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." -Philippians 4:13

please lift up Alicia's family and friends in the coming days as they deal with such a great loss. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

World Changers

"usually those who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world are the ones that do."

i've met quite a few world changers in my life time. all beautiful and such unique creatures. all so selfless and passionate and just full of love.

one of the most influential people in my life to this day is Amanda deLange. Amanda gave up her life to serve the least of these. she spent most of her days covered in spit up and slobber. she exhausted every resource and fought for every single baby that came to her. she lived in china and was a foster mama to over one hundred babies. she gave up an amazing job opportunity, left what she knew and started out with six tiny babies in a small province in china. she dropped everything and did what she was created to do, love these babies. Amanda knew what was important in life. she knew that even though she couldn't change the whole world, she could change the world for just one and that one was enough. Amanda changed the lives of many "ones" i've never met someone that was more fierce, devoted, and passionate about what she did. Amanda was one of the most beautiful fighters i have ever been blessed to meet. from the time i met her, i was in awe. when i grow up, i want to be amanda. i want to realize like she did that changing one tiny babies life was more than enough. she once told me that if her whole life had come down to saving one babies life it would have all been worth it. what a testimony. she went into the dying rooms of chinese orphanages and said "i choose that one" when the world found no value in a baby she found immeasurable value. she saw what could be not what was. amanda was diagnosed with cancer shortly after i had returned home from china after visiting her. she changed my life. and i am forever thankful for her impact. amanda died in july of 2012 and she fought the good fight. i cannot imagine the welcome home party that awaited her in heaven. all of her sweet chinese babies and jesus. i can see him welcoming her with "well done my good and faithful servant" amanda is missed terribly. her selfless loving, fierce, sassiness is missing from the world and we all ache to see her again.
amanda was a world changer. amanda was a unique and beautiful person. i want to be just like amanda.
one of amanda's babies. meet liliana. i found her in an orphanage & brought her to starfish.
 thankful that she and amanda have been reunited & amanda can love her until i see them again.